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Archive for February, 2013

Support The National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon

Posted in Editorials on February 28th, 2013

I’ve written a lot about my online involvement with Shit Reddit Says and The Fempire. Now, I’m excited we have signed up as a team to participate in the New York Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon on April 21.

From the National Network of Abortion Funds:

What are abortion funds?

Abortion funds are groups of people who help women pay for their abortions.

Nearly all abortion funds are grassroots organizations that work directly with women and families who face obstacles to abortion. Funds help women to pay for an abortion and for travel to a clinic or for an overnight stay in a motel near a clinic. Some funds provide a place to stay in their own homes for women who have to travel a great distance. Many funds also help women to pay for contraception and the morning after pill.

Abortion funds are often women’s only allies as they try to raise money to pay for an abortion.

They are also at the forefront of a dynamic and growing movement that honors the leadership and voices of low-income women, young women, and women of color.

Who are abortion funds?

Some of these groups were started by women who themselves had trouble paying for an abortion. Others were started by women and men whose neighbors asked them for help. Others were started by church groups, synagogues, and clinic staff. By women and men of every age, from college students to people in their 80s who have been doing this work for more than 30 years.

Some abortion funds have dozens of volunteers and some paid staff; others are still run by one or two people working from a kitchen table.

Large or small, they all exist for the same reason: every woman needs to have the ability to make her own decision about having a child, no matter what her income is.

While the fight for Medicaid coverage of abortion will help millions of women in the long run, only abortion funds are helping women right now.

Abortion funds change the world, pretty much every day…one woman at a time.

In my time as a clinic escort at Planned Parenthood, I was face to face with people who would spend their Saturdays harassing the men and women who needed to access the clinic for any reason. I volunteered because I wanted to show my support for women during what I could only imagine to be a very difficult time. That is the same reason why I’m doing this now.

You can donate to my page here.

The Fempire page is here.

The Unspoken No Is Still Pretty Loud

Posted in Personal Essays on February 10th, 2013

Amanda Marcotte hit it out of the park with her rebuke to disingenuous men on the internet, “If Consent Was Really That Hard, Whiny Dudes Would Fail At Every Aspect of Life.” She explained how everyone uses both verbal and non-verbal communications in all social interactions and there’s no reason why sex and dating relationships should be any different. The post ends with an anecdote about a teenage boy explicitly asking for consent from her. And this is an excellent point. If teenage boys can understand this concept, grown men have no excuse.

I have been thinking about something that happened to me when I was a teenager regarding consent ever since the entire “elevatorgate” debacle. I was sixteen years old and meeting a bunch of friends to hang out on a Friday night. Among us was a group of college freshman I hadn’t met before who were classmates of an older friend of mine. One of them was sitting next to me and he complimented my perfume and told me I smelled really good. I was surprised and flattered but not particularly interested. I said “Thank you” to be polite and then he put his arm around me. My body stiffened. I wasn’t sure what to do. And then almost immediately Mr. College took his arm away and said “Oh sorry, if that wasn’t cool.” It was awkward, but not really the end of he world.

Looking back, that an 18 year old young man can read non-verbal communication just confirms what we already know. Men can ask for a yes or understand a no. When they say otherwise, it’s not because they can’t, it’s because they just don’t want to.

Garfunkel and Oates…Again.

Posted in Editorials on February 9th, 2013

So back in June I wrotea post about how much I love Garfunkel and Oates, but that “29/31” was really sexist for pretty much no reason at all.

And people on the internets assured me that they are totally feminist! And they’re just you know, making fun of women who worry too much about getting old/being single.

So today I got around to watching, “The College Try”

This isn’t even funny. It’s just “Hey! Vaginas are gross!” It’s the same tired shtick from dudebros you can find every single day on Reddit.

Even though they lyrics say “I swear I’m not homophobic or anti-woman” this song is both. There’s no getting around it. The premise of the song is that women’s bodies are disgusting, and there is no reason for anyone to be attracted to them.

The implications of this “joke” have a real impact on womens lives and health. Despite the best efforts of health educators, some women still use douches which evidence suggests increases the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy. Even more seriously is the rise of labiaplasty and cosmetic vaginal surgery, about which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have said

These procedures are not medically indicated, and the safety and effectiveness of these procedures have not been documented. Clinicians who receive requests from patients for such procedures should discuss with the patient the reason for her request and perform an evaluation for any physical signs or symptoms that may indicate the need for surgical intervention. Women should be informed about the lack of data supporting the efficacy of these procedures and their potential complications, including infection, altered sensation, dyspareunia, adhesions, and scarring.

And while that quotation was from 2007, there’s no reason to think that things have gotten any better. Kirsten O’Regan reports at Guernica Mag about “The Barbie”:

Dr. Red Alinsod, a urogynecologist in Laguna Beach, California, claims that his most requested surgical procedure is the Barbie: a procedure that excises the entire labia minora. This results in a “clamshell” aesthetic: a smooth genital area, the outer labia appearing “sealed” together with no labia minora protrusion. Alinsod tells me he invented the Barbie in 2005. “I had been doing more conservative labiaplasties before then,” he says. “But I kept getting patients who wanted almost all of it off. They would come in and say, I want a ‘Barbie.’ So I developed a procedure that would give them this comfortable, athletic, petite look, safely.”

So while Garfunkel and Oates aren’t telling women to fill their vaginas with vinegar or get their labia chopped off, how this song made it past pipe dream phase is beyond me. There are enough people in our culture telling women to hate their bodies. We don’t need to hear it from anyone else.